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Breathing Easier Through the Holidays

Asthma, allergy control key to enjoying yuletide cheer

SATURDAY, Nov. 27, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Even though it's the Christmas season, people with allergies and asthma can't take a holiday from keeping symptoms under control, say experts at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

"With hectic schedules and constant traveling around the holidays, it's easy to forget to take proper care when dealing with allergies and asthma. Remembering to take medication and avoid potential triggers is necessary to keep symptoms under control," Dr. Wanda Phipatanakul, vice chair of the AAAAI's Indoor Allergen Committee, said in a prepared statement.

The AAAAI offers the following advice on remaining reaction-free over the holidays:

  • Before you decorate a live Christmas tree, let it dry out in the garage or enclosed porch. Some tree retailers have a shaking machine that will physically remove some allergens from trees.
  • If you have an artificial tree, clean it before you decorate it in order to remove any dust or mold it may have collected while in storage.
  • Wash fabric decorations in hot, soapy water before you put them on display.
  • Use plastic, metal or glass decorations that can't trap dust mites.
  • Be sure to follow directions when you spray artificial snow on windows or other surfaces. The sprays can irritate your lungs if you inhale them.
  • When you go to holiday parties, inform your hosts about your food allergies and ask about the ingredients used to make the meal and snacks.
  • Carry self-injectable epinephrine in case you eat a food to which you're allergic. Remember that homemade food can be contaminated with trace amounts of allergenic foods through contact with utensils, storage containers and baking sheets.
  • If you're going to a home that has pets, take medication before you arrive.
  • Watch out for holiday stress, which can trigger an asthma attack.
  • Ask friends and relatives not to burn wood in fireplaces. The wood smoke can trigger an asthma attack.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about how you can control your allergy symptoms.

SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, news release, Nov. 12, 2004
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